Archive for the ‘internet’ Category

Google Chrome – inspiring advertising

May 9, 2010

The Google Chrome advertisement at the Westfield Shopping Centre

If you have been in the UK in the last 6 months, you must have noticed at least once an advertisement about Chrome, Google‘s newest browser for surfing the web. Google announced its own browser and released the beta version for Windows in 2008. It was only recently that it completed the MacOS X and Linux versions, making it a unique browser that can run in the most popular operating systems. Therefore, the time was ripe to follow the release with an extensive media advertising campaign.

Attempting to enter this specific section of the market is not an easy task. Until recently, the public did not have many choices on internet browsers, and with the demise of Netscape, Microsoft‘s Internet Explorer dominated the market. Today, even though Internet Explorer has a large proportion of the market, Firefox, a new internet browser from the Mozilla foundation, has gained widespread acceptance and has begun crunching Microsoft’s domination. Apple also released its Safari browser for Windows, and Google then followed suit with Google Chrome and the intention to build it for all the popular computer platforms. To gain a large percentage of the market, the advertising campaign for Google Chrome needed to focus on to the simple user and explain how their surfing-the-net experience can be better and user-friendly. To this end, Google’s campaign has been immensely successful, because of:

Being everywhere. In the past 6 months, everywhere you looked, you could spot a Google Chrome advertisement. They were in tube stations, in posters, in train carriages, on the press, in London buses and also on the cover pages of most free-press magazines (and sometimes suited to the audience of the particular magazine). They even made special custom-made ads, like the ones I witnessed at the Westfield Shopping Centre. In one of the entrances of the shopping centre, there were special projections on Westfield’s wall, featuring Christmas -related themes and advertising Google Chrome.

Another Google Chrome advertisement at the Westfield Shopping Centre

Being simple. Launching a new computer software for surfing the web usually involves complex statements about HTML, CSSS, mpegs, Flash etc. But those words were never included in the Chrome’s advertisement copy, which, written in a relaxed playful font, included simple statements about what the normally doing when surfing the web.

Being unconventional. You would expect to find people fiddling with their computers in a normal advertisement about computer browsers, right? This is what happened with the Chrome feature’s advertisements, but in an unconventional way. As you can see from the video, Google chose to demonstrated the advanced features of Google Chrome not in a digital way, but in a mechanical old fashioned way. Under the slow and relaxing sounds of a harp, Google described the features of Google Chrome by building mechanical contraptions and offering some behind-the-scenes insights of how these worked to deliver the image in front of the camera. The viewer can’t just wait to see what they will come up with next.

Simply inspiring, isn’t it?



Poetic Spam

June 26, 2009


In many ways, the spam messages I have receiving by the dozens every day do not differ from the avalanche of advertising messages I encounter during my everyday life. A visit at the supermarket, a brief ride in the tube, a leisure stroll at the Southbank and I am constantly bombarded with messages. Everything is perfect in the advertising world. Families exist in harmony: the dad is a successful business entrepreneur, the mother is able to balance her busy career and family life, the kids are constantly smiling and the house appears tidy and spotless. This exuberant picture is completed by the latest offering of a detergent  able to wash better,  the latest version of toilet paper or other unimportant product.

In contrast, spam mail messages do not paint a world in harmony, but a world in disarray, unless you seek solace in the product advertised. You are not complete without a prestigious degree from a famous university, the latest fake designer bag or luxury watch and you may not keep a proper relationship unless you sport a bigger size … and we are not talking about perfume bottles here. While in advertising, there are a number of tricks – colourful and sensual images, clever catchphrases and sometimes sound and motion – the only communication vehicle of the spam message is the subject line. The way it is written can make the difference between reading the message or dismissing the content without reading it.

Writing the perfect and the most appropriate subject line for the spam messages might in many ways resemble the creative process that is being followed in the big agencies to advertise chocolates and crisps. You will need, after all, to discover inventive ways to catch the attention of your victim without betraying the existence of the spam. Sometimes the subject lines fools you that this message is somethings you are expecting, sometimes it avoids common words detected by spam filters by changing letters for numbers. But most of the times, the subject line strikes a chord with something more intimate: the feeling of guilt.

The company I work for recently moved offices. While setting the new computer systems, they delayed activation of spam filters for the company’s email system, and as a result, we were inundated with spam messages everyday for at least a month. While most of my colleagues dismissed them at once, the subject lines of those spam messages caught my attention. Here are some of the subject lines of those messages:

Believe us women care about your size down there.
Every inch of your manhood proves that you are a real man.
Empower your darling night adventures.
I CAN is way more important than IQ – so get that little pill.
Now women will bring you coffee to bed in gratitude of the night.
Perform in bed like you are in your twenties again.
Reconstruct your male friend and you will love the changes.
Your immature undeveloped friend is really bugging you?
Your tool is so small she scarcely finds it in bed?

And many variations of the common theme of the above subject lines. However, it got really interesting when I realised that among the usual ones some small gems lay hidden characterised by their rhyming character:

Men will see your power in every public shower.
It easier to slide when you have gigantic pride.
Women will be funk when they see your trunk.
Now you don’t have to be depressed over men who are well-blessed.
Take a big important stride – add some inches to your pride.
You will be mega cool if you get a bigger tool.
Are you sick because the size of your stick?
Women will divulge the beauty of your bulge.
Now you will not detest men who are from nature blessed.
Give her pleasure with every stroke – we assure you it’s no joke.

But while we may delight reading a book or looking at advertisements, why do we easily dismiss the content of the spam messages, even though they use similar vehicles of expression and marketing techniques? Probably because of the brutal evasion of our personal space. Books, magazines and billboards are not parts of our personal space.  Advertisements can, therefore, be seen and disregarded just by turning the page or focusing our attention  somewhere else.  But an spam message appearing on our personal inbox is a vulgar intrusion of our personal space, something unwanted and very difficult to let go by. Immediate action is being called to remove the offending material from our world forever.

And the balance in our little world is momentarily restored – momentarily, before we receive the next spam message.


[pictures © LambdaPhage].

London Underground at Night

May 23, 2009


The London Underground system, lovingly called the tube, is one of the oldest and longest metro systems in the world. Although many people complain every day that the tube is dirty, the trains often break down and too many line closures for engineering works occur during the weekend, running a network of 270 stations and 250 miles of track is no easy task.

An even bigger challenge is maintaining this network. Many people wonder why the tube is not open 24/7. The answer to this question comes from the faq section of the Transport for London website. Each day, the lines need to stop between 1: 00 and 6:00 to carry out essential maintenance and cleaning work. Unlike the four tunnel structure of the metro system in New York, where one tunnel in each direction can be used for maintenance work while the other allows the trains to run, the system in London, like on most European cities, is two-tunnelled. Therefore, to carry out essential maintenance work, the tube needs to shut, which is conveniently done during the evening hours.

But what is exactly happening during the night? Wired magazine recently went down to one of the stations and talked to the people working at Tube Lines, one of the companies responsible for the Piccadilly, the Northern and the Jubilee lines. You can see the entire video here. In this video, we witness the replacement of track sleepers, track maintenance and cleaning are the principal work carried out during those hours.


The replacement of sleepers is the main task being carried out by a team of people. During the night, the team can manage to replace only 3 sleepers. The work involves drilling the old sleeper from the concrete, lifting the sleeper (which is essentially a 4 man’s task) and then replacing it with the new one. On the other hand, the track work is now done by a special milling machine. The machine scrapes off the track to make it even and ensure a more comfortable ride for the passengers. Finally, the cleaning of the stations and the ballast is also an enormous task. Rubbish and newspapers are cleaned by hand by the staff, whereas grime at the side of the station and the ballast is being cleaned by special machinery.

Each day, therefore, the team maintaining the network faces a race through time to complete all those works and get the line to acceptable standards for the passengers for the next day. While it sounds simple, it is not an easy task considering that temperatures can go up to 40 ℃. And all that, during the time that we are having our dream in the comfort of our home.